Packing is crucial when it comes to silage storage in the bunker. High packing density will help to minimize dry matter (DM) and nutrient losses during ensiling, storage and feedout.
Here are some tips on silage storage:
1) Silage packing time
Make sure you have sufficient packing time relative to the chopped forage delivery rate in order to maximize packing density.
Packing time per ton is typically highest under low delivery rates.
Conversely, packing time per ton is lower during high delivery rates.
2) Forage delivery rate
Many farmers are not willing to slow down harvest rate to optimize packing.
However, adding a second or third packing tracker as delivery rate increase can help to ensure packing time is at a sweet spot - around 1 to 3 minutes per ton of fresh forage.
3) Packing tractor weight
In order to determine the best total tractor weight to optimize packing, divide total tractor weight by 800.
This will determine the tons per hour of fresh silage that can be packed properly
For example, if the tractor total weight is around 120,000 lbs, dividing it by 800 would equals to 150 tons of silage per hour that can be properly packed.
To increase weight of packing tractor, consider filling the tires with water.
4) Forage layer thickness
Chopped forage should be spread in thin layers of 6 - 12 inches.
Ideally, the tires of the packing tractor should pass over the entire surface before next forage layer is distributed.
Here are some common silage mistakes to avoid:
Harvesting the forage at wrong moisture or maturity.
Incorrect use of inoculants.
Not covering the oxygen barrier plastic.
Poor feedout management.
Not removing spoiled silage.